News / Africa

Sierra Leone Uses New Device to Improve Power Supply

A
A "System Classic" device that detects faulty cables, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 24, 2013. (Nina deVries for VOA)
Sierra Leone's National Power Authority [NPA], which is responsible for providing the country with power, has deployed a new device that can detect faulty underground cables. The hope is to help provide electricity around-the-clock through the use of this equipment. It will have a great impact on Sierra Leoneons, who face blackouts on a regular basis.

People in Sierra Leone have been without consistent power since the 1980s. That was when demand for power began to increase. Then in 1991, civil war broke out, lasting 11 years. It left the country in shambles. Many power facilities were destroyed and people migrated to Freetown, the capital. This increased the population even more and caused higher demand than NPA could handle.

In Freetown, blackouts can occur on a daily basis and parts of the country still have no power at all.

December is the most festive season for Sierra Leone, and music can be heard all over as carnival parties heat up.

Faulty cables

If there is no national power and you do not have a generator, however, things can stop altogether during the evening hours.

That is where the faulty cable detecting vehicle that NPA has purchased comes in.

Edward Parkinson is one of the senior technicians who works with the vehicle. He said technicians used to have to dig up entire streets trying to find broken cables. "With this new equipment, it will reduce the down time and also it will help us locate faults at a faster rate."

He explained that the equipment in the vehicle can detect a faulty cable within a few hours. Previously, it could take weeks to figure that out.

Scott Gavin, the deputy general manager for NPA, said his hope is the vehicle also will help the country have power 24/7 within about two years, by detecting faulty cables quickly and repairing power faster.

"And because of the ease with which we can do it, improved technology, within an hour or two, depending on the length of cable, we are able to pinpoint the fault and then we can request for permission if it's along a road, so that excavations can take place," said Gavin.

The vehicle is able to detect problems with medium and low voltage. And because it can be done efficiently, this means customers will have power quickly restored, and not as many people will be affected while excavations are underway.

Effective tool

Gavin said this device has been on the market only for about one year, and it already is being used worldwide. It costs NPA about $230,000. He said it was built in Germany by a company called SebaKMT and although various similar models have been around for decades, this new one - known as the "System Classic" - had all the features NPA needed.

"This one we requested for a complete set, that would help us identify cables in the ground, do location [find] in the event of faults, and do the necessary tests all in one vehicle. So you drive the vehicle, it has a generator in case there's no power at that location, so you just operate the generator and you can power the equipment," said Gavin.

This is all good news to people like Momoh Kamara, a 33-year-old who works as a caretaker at a compound in the western area of Freetown. Like many Sierra Leoneons, he cannot afford a generator and so when there is no national power provided, he just has to make do.

"For example, when you have food, you are not able to store it more than one day, it affects that area greatly and overnight when you have problem, get a funny sound, like thieves, for you to detect [them], it's difficult because the place is dark and whenever they come around if the place is dark, he will have the chance to do whatever he wants to do, so it's terrible to live in a place where there is no electricity," said Kamara.

Kamara also said that when it's dark, snakes slither around some houses at night and will sometimes attack.

Gavin of the National Power Authority knows the cable-fault-detecting vehicle alone cannot bring back full power to the country, though it certainly can help.

And that assistance is something for which Kamara and many other Sierra Leoneons are hoping.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More